A candidate’s list of requirements

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Q:  I have fairly strict requirements for my next job.  I won’t work downtown. I need flex hours.  And I need to earn 10% more of what I am earning now.  I also don’t want to have to work on weekends.  How can I find a job that meets these requirements?

A:  Hmmm.  You have a tall list.  Funny, I view the employment relationship the exact opposite way, since I typically work on behalf of the employer.  What are you, as a candidate, able to bring to my client, the employer?  Do you have top-notch skills?  Do you have a strong work ethic?  Do you develop positive work relationships?  Do you have experience in the same or relevant industry?

When a candidate begins to outline their demands early in the selection process, I get nervous.  Will they have unreasonable expectations?  Are they solely focused on their own career and not adding value to the company?  Are they realistic in their pursuit of a new role?

Any relationship is a two-way street.  A marriage, a friendship or even a work relationship.  There has to be reasonable voices on each side of the relationship.  When I hear job hunters begin setting tight limits on what will be acceptable and what won’t, it raises a yellow flag in my head.

If you voiced your friendship expectations to a new friend, they might even take a step back.  An employer may feel the same reluctance.

Although these items may be important to you, it may be wise to first explore the opportunity while keeping your requirements silent during the first few steps of the selection process.  You may not be able to have all your requirements met.  There may be some trade-offs.  You might be able to find a role in the suburbs and the company may offer flex hours.  Or you might have some weekend work but the role may pay 12% more.  Rarely do job offers check all the boxes.  Just like any relationship, there are trade-offs.  No spouse, partner or friend is perfect either.

Remember an employer may have a list of requirements when they hire.  Sometimes these requirements are formalized in a job description.  An employer may want 15 years of mechanical engineering experience, along with a master’s degree.  However, the employer might have to consider candidates with 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree.  Employers may also have to analyze trade-offs when they are hiring a new employer.

Unless you are an extremely sought-after candidate. It is rare that all your boxes will be checked.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

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